With the 2017 NFL Draft under a week away, players and fans alike are eagerly waiting to see who their teams select. With the majority of top free agents having already signed to a team, the draft is one of the last methods available for teams to bring in young, elite talent. This makes it essential to analyze strengths and weaknesses carefully to make sure the selection is truly beneficial to the team. After finishing the season 11-5, the New York Giants currently sit with the 23rd overall pick in the draft. In preparation for the first-round selection taking place on April 27th, here are the Giants’ top three needs going into the draft.
New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs
Perhaps the most pressing need for the Giants on defense comes at the tackle position. Even when Johnathan Hankins was on the roster, additional depth was needed. Now that he’s signed a three-year/$30 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts, this position becomes a top priority now more than ever. Luckily for Jerry Reese and company, this year’s draft is packed with NFL-ready players on the defensive side of the ball, especially the line.
Outside of All-Pro defensive tackle Damon Harrison, there are few other players on the roster who could fill the position. Unfortunately for the Giants, none of them happen to have much experience or impressive talent to rely on consistently. Robert Thomas, who’s one of the potential replacements to take Hankins’ role, has only played a total of 97 snaps in his entire three-year career. In this time span he has also been signed to six different teams, spending most his time on the practice squad. The next possible candidate, and current back-up for Harrison, is Jay Bromley. Entering his fourth season, the former third-round pick has the most experience out of all candidates. Although he saw a significant snap reduction last season, his experience gives him a significant edge over Thomas for the starting job. In either case, new talent needs to be brought in early this draft to solidify this defensive unit, as both candidates become free agents at the end of this season.
In what seems to be one of the most talented tight end draft classes in years, the Giants will without a doubt walk away with a player at this position. Since beginning the offseason it has been rumored the Giants were going to select a tight end with their first-round selection. This might still be the case if a player like O.J. Howard is still available. While David Njoku is also an attractive target, it’s unlikely he becomes the Giants pick at 23rd overall. Instead, the Giants should wait until at least the second round to address this position if they’re unable to land Howard.
To keep it simple, last year’s tight ends were nothing short of terrible. While the tight end corp has come a long way from what they were at the beginning of the offseason, it still needs improvement. When approaching the draft, the selection needs to be the receiving threat Eli Manning so desperately needs. Earlier in the off-season, the Giants signed ex-Minnesota Viking tight end Rhett Ellison to a four-year deal. His versatility and style of play will be significant to this offense, especially in regards to improving run and pass blocking. Although his efforts will be significant, having that true receiving end will compliment Ellison’s style perfectly and allow for Eli to dump the ball off easily. Expect for this position to be addressed on day two of the draft.
Finishing the season with the 20th ranked offensive line calls for some serious upgrades. Sadly, the Giants were unable to address this in free agency due to the high price tags on the position and limited amount of cap space. Outside of signing former 2013 first-round pick D.J. Fluker, there have been no other new additions to the unit. While this is concerning, it almost feels as if head coach Ben McAdoo has a plan in store for the future. Most fans wanted to move Ereck Flowers to the right side, but there is no current indication that this is the direction the organization is headed towards.
Regardless of what position Flowers plays at next year, additional help must be brought in if Eli is to succeed in the back nine of his career. The interior trio is without a doubt the biggest strength and serves as the backbone of the offensive line. On the outside, both tackle positions are where the team is in trouble. Right tackle Bobby Hart has shown this year that he is not entirely capable of handling the starting role quite yet. While there is a lot of potential, he simply has not reached it yet. Bringing in a guy like Fluker will at the very least stir up some competition in the unit and provide players with the incentive to play harder. In a weak offensive line class, there isn’t that many players that are ready to come in and make an impact on day one. Given that this is what the Giants are truly looking for, don’t expect Reese to force the pick in the first round of the draft. If a top three tackle prospect isn’t available when the Giants are on the clock, look for the Giants to address this in the second or third round.